4.9 million lost work days is a pain in the back

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date: Tuesday 28th June

embargo: For immediate release

Attention: health, social, industrial, business and employment correspondents and newsdesk editors


British businesses lose an estimated 4.9 million days to employee absenteeism through work related back pain - with the North East suffering more than most, with 2 people in every hundred having to cope with the condition. With each affected employee taking an average of 19 days off work this is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed.

The charity Backcare estimates the overall cost of back pain - to the NHS, business and the economy - at a staggering £5 billion per year.

With these statistics in mind, and to tie-in with the Health and Safety Executive’s Backs! 2005 Initiative (with a nationwide programme running from the 13th June to 8th July by the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities) the Northern TUC’s Health and Safety Forum are holding a Training Day and seminar on Wednesday 29th June at Gateshead Civic Centre. The event will give practical advice and instruction regarding manual handling and the best and safest ways to ensure your back stays healthy.

Doug Russell, Health and Safety Officer for USDAW and a speaker at the training day said, 'We welcome the HSE campaign’s simple messages that cost-effective use of handling aids or changes to the way people work can make a difference. And for those who are injured, early reporting of symptoms, proper treatment and planned rehabilitation can ensure that they get back to work in safety.

'We know from experience that when employers listen to their workers, they can identify the problems and develop practical solutions. Union safety reps have a vital part to play - using techniques like body mapping to find out where the risks are and using their negotiating skills to get improvements.'

Richard Bishop of the Health and Safety Executive added, ' The Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities are urging everyone to work together and take action. This summer's Backs! 2005 Initiative seeks to promote a sensible wide-ranging approach to reducing the incidence of back injuries at work, encouraging engagement from all sides of business and industry, especially employers and employees. The Initiative provides us with a unique opportunity to hit back pain and back injury harder and more effectively than ever before."

Northern TUC Regional Secretary, Kevin Rowan, says, ' Preventing back injuries should be a major concern for employers and workers in our region given the scale of the problem and the consequences of not dealing with it.

'Back injuries are extremely debilitating to individual victims and their families, as well as very costly to employers and the economy. And yet the solutions that would prevent injury are often extremely simple.'

Notes to Editors:

All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Figures around the total and individual number of days are according to the latest figures from the 2003/4 Labour Force Survey.

For a full agenda call 0191 232 3175.

The training day will take pace at Gateshead Civic Centre. Start 9.30am.


Media enquiries : Susanne Nichol on 0191 232 3175 or 07771873108

Other enquiries:

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